If you happen to be in the Ventura County area this Thursday (or want to lend your voice in the fight against the opioid crisis), we recommend putting the Simi Prescription Drug Addiction Summit on your radar. The free event happens May 3 from 7-9 pm at the Ronald Reagan Library and promises to be “an educational and provocative discussion” on the dangers of dependencies.
One major selling point of the event is featured speaker Robert Patterson. Patterson happens to be the appointed acting administrator the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and will be sharing a keynote address with all attendees.
This topic is certain to hit home with a lot of local residents. In the past two years alone, opioid deaths in Ventura County rose by more than 25 percent. Worse yet, overdoses from fentanyl more than tripled during that same time span.
Simi, in particular, saw a sharp spike in drug activity. According to recent stats, local police responded to 146 calls involving heroin last year (and over 30 in the first four months of 2018).
Simi police chief David Livingstone will also be a speaker at the event and is encouraging everyone from the community to attend.
“I’ve never seen overdose deaths at the point where they are now,” Livingstone told The Ventura County Star. “They get addicted to opiate-based prescriptions. They turn to the cheaper alternative, which is heroin.”
Interestingly enough, it was a local Simi businessman who first got the ball rolling for the summit. Fred Thomas also happens to be a local DEA volunteer and brought his concerns to the mayor and other elected officials. Now, the summit has the full support of the Simi Police Department, the Reagan Library, the DEA and the FBI (all of whom will have members participating). Local filmmakers and recovery advocates will also be part of the agenda.
“I think a lot of people in our community are in a state of denial over it,” Livingstone explained. “They think overdose and addiction happens to other people. “
The hope is that with this impressive gathering of influential figures, stigma conversations will begin to change. The summit is already receiving a large amount of press and our hope is that it leads other local L.A. communities to hold similar types of events.
Space is still available for the Thursday night lecture. We recommend visiting the registration site and reserving a seat soon (whether you live in Ventura County or not). It is an important occasion that is worth putting on the agenda.